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Portable Diesel, Gas & Propane Generator Maintenance Tips

Portable Generator Maintenance
Written by Jamie Masterson

Having a portable generator is important in the event of a power outage. While blackouts are both expected and unpredictable, portable generators require regular maintenance.

Here are a few tips to help make sure that your portable generator runs to the fullest capacity whenever you need it.

Portable Generator Maintenance

Don’t get burned by wattage ratings

Make sure your generator is capable of handling the voltage you intend to use. Generators don’t have the same wattage rating, so you should check the labeling or the user manual before you use it.

Run the unit every three months

Generators need exercise every now and then, just like humans. The electric starter’s battery will stay charged if you run the generator periodically.

Cool off before you refill

Cool off before you refill

It is possible to live for a mere 15 minutes without power, so wait until the engine has cooled before pouring.

Your worst enemy is old fuel

Unless you live in a remote area, your portable generator isn’t used very often. Don’t let old gasoline sit in its fuel tank while it doesn’t need it. You can either add a stabilizing agent to the fuel, or empty the tank at least once a year.

Experiencing gas shortages can be expensive

Low-cost generators, in particular, are susceptible to damage if they run out of gas. You will be able to start the generator, but no power will be generated. You need to take the unit to a repair shop where the generator coils will be reenergized.

Recharge your batteries

They are most likely to malfunction because of battery issues. Batteries should be strong and charged long enough for the generator to start without any problems.

Store gasoline safely

Store gasoline safely

The local fire code usually restricts how much gasoline is allowed in your house (usually no more than 10 gallons). Don’t store gasoline near flames.

Check your fuel and fuel lines

Fuel lines on portable generators can crack, tear, or clog with time and usage. In this case, you may be unable to access the gas supply, and the generator may not work properly.

Stock up on extra oil

The oil in your generator gets drained quickly when you run your refrigerator and stove. Therefore, it is necessary to change it more often under heavy loads. The oil should be changed every 50 hours, and you should always have a sufficient supply in your garage.

Upgrade components when needed

When parts are old and worn, it is important to upgrade them when needed. Not replacing parts can cause your generator to run poorly and create further costs.

Check the engine oil, including coolant, and fluid levels

It is necessary to maintain the cooling system, which involves periodic checks of the coolant level. Shutting down is an ideal time to perform this task.

Backfeeding kills

Backfeeding kills

There is a very good reason why backfeeding is illegal. Families, neighbors, and power company line-men can die from it. Too many people have died from this already!

Check the enclosure and generator for debris and leaks

Generator exhaust can be quite hot, igniting flammable liquids. Before you start the generator, make sure no leaks are present.

Check the exhaust system, pipe, and muffler


Check these areas to see if there are no debris, clogs, or holes. This can really damage the generator beyond repair.

Lock it down

Generators are costly, so they are always a victim to thieves.

Invest in concrete eyebolts and grounding rods for electrical safety while cutting a hole for security. Enclose the entire structure in 4-in. Drainpipes made of ABS or PVC.

Close-up of eye bolt, concrete pier, and grounding rod

Connect the grounding rod to the ground wire for safety, and connect the eyebolt to the chain for security.

Unplug the freezer

Fridges and freezers consume a lot of energy. Try lowering their temperature first and Then you can unplug them and not open them unless absolutely necessary. As cool as coolers, they’ll remain cool for a long time.

Build a garage for generators

Build a garage for generators

Put down a concrete pad and install an enclosed unit over the concrete pad.

Use the right type of cords

Use the right type of cords

Most people park generators at least 100 feet away from their houses because of their noise. Limit the run of the cord to 100 feet with heavy-duty 12-gauge cords

A door for cords

Extension cords usually enter a house from an opening such as a window or door. You can make a door for the cords to go inside to out however you like.

Empty your portable generator’s tank after use

Following its use, its tank should be emptied into a gas can. You should have plenty of fuel for your generator but don’t let it sit idle in the fuel tank.

Check out your warranty period

Some companies allow you to purchase an extended warranty. This is a good idea to ensure you are covered, especially if you are using the generator all the time.

Portable Diesel Generator Maintenance Tips

If the fuel does not appear new, filter or replace it

Throughout the generator’s system, impurities are mixed in with it. Generator pistons and carburetor are then clogged with these impurities

Fuel samples should be taken from the tank bottom and supply lines

Make sure that the fuel used in your generator is not problematic.

Fuel carbon deposits must be removed

Use a solution of sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate at temperatures between 80°C and 95°C to dissolve the scale

Drain the gas tank of any accumulated water

When gasoline is mixed with water, it sinks, which means water will be the first thing to come out of the fuel lines.

Maintain proper fuel pressure for diesel engines

To prevent a generator from malfunctioning, the injection pressure must remain steady at all times.

Diesel fuel may need to be treated

Visually inspecting diesel fuel for darkening or high levels of particulates will reveal treatment is required, or the generator will cease to function.

Portable Gas Generator Maintenance Tips

Replace spark plugs if necessary

Spark plugs are an integral part of all small gasoline engines, and they need to be inspected and tested regularly

Check fuel hose for cracks or leaks 

Propane gas leaks are very dangerous, so prevention is paramount

Portable Propane Generator Maintenance Tips

Change oil if needed

Once a year, change the oil/filter or more if you are using the generator often.

See if there’s enough fuel pressure

Generators powered by propane typically required a propane pressure of 100 to 200 psi


Q. How do I change old gasoline?

Draining the fuel tank is easiest if the carburetor fuel line is removed and the fuel valve is opened, which allows the old fuel to drain into an appropriate container. Then, clean the carburetor well for proper combustion after replacing it with fresh fuel.

Q. How do I change the air filter?

Process –

  • First unplug the spark wire
  • Remove the old filter
  • Clean and inspect old filters
  • Reinstall the filter
  • Reconnect the spark plug wire

Q. Is it safe to operate my generator indoors?

Generators should always be used outdoors. They are not suitable to be placed and used inside.

Q. When should I change my spark plugs?

It is recommended to change spark plugs after 100 hours of use. You should also check the spark plugs for wear or cracks if you are servicing your generator.

About the author

Jamie Masterson

With decade-long experience as a generator technician, Jamie has worked with USA’s top generator manufacturers and suppliers as an independent contractor.

The long years of service to the industry has taught Jamie the ins and outs of troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining all kinds of generators in home, industrial and outdoor settings.

Jamie thinks this platform is a great opportunity to share his tips and tricks with you so you can make the most of such power equipment for better living.

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